WHO: Memphis Grizzly (38-34, 20-16 away) vs. Utah Jazz (52-20, 31-5 at home). Memphis leads the series, 1-0.
WHEN: 9:00 p.m. CST
O: Vivint Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN: TNT / Bally Sports Southeast / 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Sean McDermott (left foot pain, Out)
Utah: N / A
PROJECTED STARTING CONFIGURATION:
Memphis: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
UTAH: Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, Rudy Gobert
The Memphis Grizzlies shocked the world on Sunday. There were several analysts who didn’t even win them a game against the Western Conference’s top regular-season team, the Utah Jazz.
On top of that, most domestic media and casual fans don’t even have want to The low. Everyone wanted to see Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors while shouting “but the odds!” At the top of their lungs – or at least typing it in all caps on their keyboard. Even before the play-in started, people were talking about how the Warriors could even upend Jazz.
The Grizzlies are used to disrespect, and even Kyle Anderson said he doesn’t care to get that respect. They took care of business. They threw hay, while Utah hit them with punches. As Utah started talking about trash, the Grizzlies didn’t lay down; they also talked about their noise.
I asked Ja what had led to this change in energy and swagger. He said Utah has played its game and they’ve started talking about trash. And it opened things up to play their game to end up as they wanted
– Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) May 24, 2021
This young team is just full of swagger. They don’t really care about the team in front of them or how you feel about them.
But it is far from over. This is game 2 of the series. Adjustments will be made and a new wrinkle will be added to the series: All-Star goaltender Donovan Mitchell.
The Donovan Mitchell effect
So Donovan Mitchell is crazy. More on the story here, but he wanted to play Game 1 and the Utah Jazz performance team held him on. His teammates were upset and uncomfortable about it. Now he’s playing, and there will be extra juice on both sides.
Donovan Mitchell is a star talent. He’s an electrifying goalie who can create his own mid-range shot, finish at or over the rim, find his teammates and shoot the 3-ball with good volume and efficiency (38.6% on 8.3 attempts per game). He’s also proven to be a great talent in playoff chances, averaging 27.3 points per game on a 55.1 live-shoot percentage in all 3 playoff appearances.
He adds a dynamic touch to the Jazz Beginning 5 with his explosiveness and scoring prowess, but it also moves the play and extraordinary shooting Joe Ingles to the second unit.
And more importantly for this particular game, he cooked the Grizzlies this season. He scored 35 points in each of the 2 games he played, while shooting 60% from the field. No one had an answer for him, not even stopper Dillon Brooks (allowed him to shoot 7-9).
Brooks has to use his size and physique to bother Mitchell, who is probably not 100%. He needs to make life difficult for her. Will he need to shield him from the face like Steph Curry? Probably not, since Mitchell is not at Curry’s level, and Utah can win with other contributors as well. Nonetheless, the spotlight is now on the Mitchell-Brooks showdown. This battle could be the deciding factor for this series.
Adapt to potential adjustments
Changes will be made. Quin Snyder is too good a coach not to take a backlash. If I had to guess what will be strategically different in this game, it will likely come inside the arc. The Grizzlies shot 80% of their shots from inside the 3-point line, while converting on 47.5% of them. Plus, they scored 62 of their 112 points inside the paint. It’s bread and butter for the Grizzlies, and Utah will likely make it harder for them inside – after all, they have reigning defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert.
What does it look like? They’ll likely collapse on Ja Morant on drives, overtake Jonas Valanciunas down, play both drive and roll in screen situations and prevent Dillon Brooks from hitting his shots at mid-range. So what should the Grizzlies do?
They don’t need to be married to the 3-point game like Utah, but they might have to lean on it a bit more – if those adjustments are made against them.
We’ll start with the team’s top scorer the other night, Dillon Brooks. He’s done an incredible job of reaching his places in the mid-range, channeling his inner Mamba there. It might not be that easy this time around, but it has more than one area of ââsuccess. Of those who took 50 corners 3 or more, he finished 2nd in the league in percentage in that area (56.9%). In addition, he also shot 38.6% on catch-and-shoot 3 in the regular season. If those weak spots are removed, seek him out to become a catch-and-shoot threat.
The 3 Shooting Guards – Desmond Bane, Grayson Allen and De’Anthony Melton – also need to be reliable at depth. Bane (2) and Allen (1) each connected in triplicate in the last game, but they only combined for 5 attempts. This number may need to double if midrange and paintwork are the main goals of the opposing defense. Melton’s cold-firing stretch continued over the past month. With Ingles back on the bench, they need analytical sweetheart De’Anthony Melton (or even 3’Anthony Melton we’ve seen this season) to get back into action.
The most important factor in this whole picture – both for this series and for the future of the team – is getting Jaren Jackson Jr. to move forward. He’s struggled a lot in the last 3 games, which is what one would expect since he got into high stakes basketball almost immediately after a 9 month layover. With his defensive struggles and fouling issues lately, his potential offensive firepower is what keeps him down. This potential must become a reality, however, if they are to win against the Utah Jazz with a return of Donovan Mitchell.
Of course, these adjustments could be hypothetical. However, it would be foolish to think Quin Snyder’s Utah Jazz won‘t adjust his plan.
I don’t know where to lean. The Memphis Grizzlies have won 9 of their last 10 games, clearly locking themselves on both ends of the field and closing games with veteran poise. Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant cook at the right time.
On the flip side, the Jazz have only lost 6 home games all year, and there will be some mojo with a return from Donovan Mitchell and revenge in mind.
It will be a close game, and regardless, the Grizzlies will come in with “home advantage” after stealing a game on the road.
Final score prediction: Utah – 113, Memphis – 108
For more Grizzlies talk, subscribe to the Grizzly Bear Blues podcast network at Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts, Stapler, Spotify, and Iheart. Follow Grizzly Bear Blues on Twitter and Instagram.